Provisional Ballots

If you find that you are not on the voter registration list at your polling location on Election Day, then you have the right to ask for a "provisional" ballot. The poll worker must give you one according to the law. However, voting by provisional ballot is a "mixed blessing".


Pro - This ballot type offers you an alternative when your name doesn't show up on the registration list. You do get to vote!

Con - Your provisional ballot may not be counted in some counties/states. It has to be given to you, but only if you ask for it.

Every provisional ballot is researched by Election office staff to verify if it is legitimate. This takes time and the risk is that it will be quickly declared as "spoiled", i.e. not countable, due to time constraints or the bias of the person handling your ballot.

Tip: Using a regular ballot is always preferable to a provisional ballot; the key is to make certain (to the best of your ability) that you are on the registration rolls before you go to vote on Election Day. Check to see if you're registered.